Any busy, working parent who’s juggling too many balls will no doubt be able to relate to forgetting something important. A work deadline or meeting, a school event, an anniversary, maybe even registering the car. But forgetting your own child?
It seems completely beyond comprehension, yet it is happening more and more frequently. This tragic consequence of our stretched lifestyles and increasingly busy minds has even been given a name: Forgotten Baby Syndrome.
Numerous studies have shown that our stressful, busy lives are causing more forgetfulness. Researchers have found factors such as marital problems, sleep deprivation and certain medications can affect the prefrontal cortex, which is one of the most critical parts of the brain used for multi-tasking. This means that your brain is less likely to be able to handle multiple demands if you’re trying to juggle too many things and are feeling exhausted. Something as simple as a change to your usual routine is all it could take.
But no-one ever thinks this absent-mindedness could extend to their own baby.
“That would NEVER happen to me!”
Except it does happen. To people who never expected it to. People who love their children. That’s what makes it an accident. That’s what makes it a tragedy.
Watch and see just how this happens to a parent just like you and I. Such a tragedy.
So how do busy people protect themselves from such a heart-breaking catastrophe? Some might say “Slow down” and whilst, in essence, that seems like a simple solution, it’s not entirely possible in many situations.
Practical precautions are what’s needed and we have a list of suggestions with something to suit most, to prevent forgetting your baby in the car.
1. Leave your handbag, briefcase, laptop or anything you need that day with the baby in the backseat. You’re not going to get out of the car without your handbag.
2. Leave your left shoe with the baby in the backseat. You’re definitely not going to leave the car without your shoe!
3. Tie a ribbon to your steering wheel after you have strapped in your baby when you get in the car. This is a good idea, but may be hard to remember and for those that are pressed for time, it may be the first thing that gets dropped.
4. If your child regularly attends childcare, make sure childcare have systems in place where they will call you [and then any other contacts] to find out where your baby is if you haven’t dropped them off on a day they have been booked in. If they cannot reach you [ie their call goes to your voicemail] then make sure they call your other contact person on the list.
5. Keep a long ribbon with a plastic curtain ring on one end tied to the harness of your child’s carseat. When you strap them in make it a habit to hook the other end of that ribbon to the dash of your car, or the handbreak to remind you that a baby is strapped in
6. Put baby’s nappy bag on the front passenger seat. This will serve as a visual reminder that your baby is in the back seat.
7. If you are the person who usually takes your child to childcare or a babysitter and you have asked someone else [partner, friend, relative] to do so for you on occasion, make it YOUR HABIT to call that person not long after the scheduled time to ask them how it went. If that person has accidentally forgotten, it will mean your baby has only been left in the car for a very short and hopefully non-life-threatening amount of time.